Thursday, May 31, 2012

Asian Veggie Soup

Soup is one of those meals that I can't help ordering even if summer is in full swing outside. It is a staple of my diet all year long and I love to come up with some different ideas from standard chicken noodle and the Italian soups like Pasta Fagioli I ate growing up. I have tried to make Tom Yum soup a few times but I always get discouraged because it doesn't taste "right" and it takes so long and uses hard to find expensive ingredients. Sometimes its easier and cheaper just to order take out! This soup is a take on Tom Yum and other south east Asian soups but it uses  ingredients that are easier to find at the ethic market. Since I am a believer in sweating out the heat, this soup base is great for summer time!

I used boxed chicken broth to make this base but please feel free to take the homemade route and either make your own chicken stock or be even more traditional and go for a shrimp stock. If you are interested in making an authentic bowl of Tom Yum check out the directions on Chez Pim.  You can make a million different version of this soup - noodles or none, chicken, shrimp, veggies etc so feel free to add or subtract as you of my favorite treats is pre-made frozen dumpings! The basic broth is really versatile and can pull together all those "why did I buy this?" ingredients that are starting to sag in the crisper drawer.

Click through for the recipe!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Delicious Brunch Cocktail!

There is a restaurant near me that makes something called the World's Best Brunch Cocktail ever - its a mix of fresh OJ, champagne and St. Germain (elderflower liquor). I love this drink but the price tag on it is more of a treat than a regular $4 bloody mary or mimosa (I love this brunch!) When I had some girls over a few weeks ago I decided that I could easily replicate it and maybe make it even better! I didn't have any regular oranges on hand but I did have a blood orange. I love the way that blood oranges look but its rare that I actually pick out a good one - they seem to be more prone to being dry and tasteless than standard oranges. As luck would have it though...I finally got a good one!

1 oz elderflower liquor
1 oz fresh blood orange juice 
Top with 2 oz dry champagne or sparking wine
Garnish with a twist of the rind

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Give Away! with Shrimp Ceviche and a fresh salad dressing

 One of the best parts of being a home cook is not having to buy foods that have lots of additives and artificial ingredients in them. I know that when I cook I am only using fresh vegetables and herbs with high quality ingredients. But even I will admit that sometimes its easy to fall into using convenience foods when you are in a rush or just not in the mood to make everything from scratch. One place where I try to always go fresh but sometimes fail is salad dressing. Its so easy to make and you can work with so many different fresh ingredients to make the perfect mix but grabbing a bottle is just so temptingly easy at times.

This is especially true when it comes to bringing dressing to work for lunch. If you put dressing on the salad in advance it can get soggy and no one wants to eat a limp salad but if you keep it on the side it tends to leak and get all over the place. I was really excited when OXO asked me to try these new mini lock top containers. They make some of my favorite tools and I just knew that these containers would be the perfect solution for storing messy liquids and dips. I even was able to use the medium size one to make a few quick servings of dressing - shaking it up right in the container. What could be easier?

I love it when kitchen tools make dinner run smoother. The larger container was the perfect size for marinading my ceviche. Last time, I tried ceviche it was with a salmon filet and I was scared that it wouldn't be done and everyone would get sick! Shrimp turn a tell tale pink when they are done as an easy signal that the citrus fruit has done its job. Just give it a shake every 30 minutes or so to keep all the citrus mixed with the shrimp. Its fast and is perfect for a warm spring day or as a contrast to a barbeque filled with hearty meats.You can also serve it on a bed of greens for a lunchtime treat - just don't leave the shrimp in the citrus too long! After a few hours the fish can start to get overdone so try not to let it sit around more than six hours.

Check out my recipes for Tres Citrus Shrimp Ceviche and Garlic Cilantro dressing below and enter the giveaway to get your own set of OXO Good Grips Lock Top containers!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Guest Post: Randy's Beet & Braised Beef Soup

Hi Readers - my friend Randy wanted to share a delicious recipe and some photos of a soup party they recently attended. She and her husband Mike are great friends and wonderful cooks so I am very excited to share this with you. If we are lucky we might even get another guest post from her on all the New Orleans eats they tried when on vacation to Jazz Fest!

now Randy will take it away.....

I consider myself blessed to have such an amazing group of friends, and a few of them happen to be just as obsessed with good food as I am. A few weeks ago, my friend Krissy had the awesome idea of hosting a soup party, and invited us all to bring our own brand for a potluck extravaganza.  The results were better than expected, and we all had a fantastic time preparing and sharing our soup-y goodness. I spent a few days getting ready for this event.  I searched the web and several cookbooks for a delicious-sounding recipe, and settled on one from for Beet and Braised Beef Soup. This recipe calls for beef short ribs, lima beans, and a colorful medley of fresh vegetables and herbs.

I found some beautifully marbled short ribs at my local grocery store, and knew I was heading in the right direction!  Gathering the entire assortment of produce required a trip to a specialty market for some of the harder-to-find (and probably out-of-season) items.  Once I had everything required, I returned home to pre-season the meat and soak the dried lima beans overnight.The next evening, my husband and I started chopping up a storm.  We were quite pleased with the beautiful mise en place sprawling across our counter tops. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cavatelli with lamb sausage and spinach

I haven't made it to an Easter at my parents in a while. Since the holiday is on a Sunday and you generally don't get the following Monday off, it makes it hard to be at my parents for dinner,  drive 5-7 hours and still make it to work the next morning. I was so excited when my boss gave us the day off for Good Friday and on my first day on the job! We were able to leave NY early and get to see my family an extra day. My mother even arranged Easter to begin as a brunch so that we would see everyone! We decided that we had to leave by two o'clock so that we wouldn't be getting home too late. This meant that we were going to miss the final dinner item - fresh cavatelli in home made sauce with sausages and meatballs. Luckily, I got my mom to pack me up a container of sauce and meat with some of the uncooked pasta before we left.

Once home we were too full and tired to make anything for dinner, but the next night I decided to switch things around. I had some lamb sausage in the freezer and since it is very traditional to eat lamb around Easter (and Passover which we celebrated a bit later in the week) I decided to use that for our dinner instead. This is an easy dish based on some thing I often make with chicken sausage, the lamb was amazing though! Flavorful little morsels between perfectly chewy bites of cavatelli gave the perfect savory bite. And we got to enjoy the sauce with some pasta another day!

Click through for the recipe